Exploring AI Generative Art in the Classroom: Enhance Critical Thinking with Interactive AI Art Lessons

Looking for an engaging AI generated art lesson for your computer lab or media literacy unit? Looking for ideas on using AI generated art in the classroom or teaching how to use AI ethically? Notice and Ponder: AI Generated Art sets seamlessly blend the novelty of Dall-E and other AI generated art with the timeless value of critical thinking. Each set within this series focuses on a different seasonal theme, providing a diverse range of visuals and discussion topics for students.

It’s a done-for-you low prep activity with high engagement that also develops important real-world skills that will help your students navigate an increasingly tricky online environment.

In this post, I’m sharing more information about how Notice and Ponder: AI Generated Art sets can be used in the classroom in a variety of ways – including a flexible lesson plan that can be adapted for students in grades 3-6th!

Why You Should Teach Kids to Think Critically About AI Generated Art in the Classroom

I have noticed that discourse around media literacy about “AI in the classroom” lends itself to topics around if AI “belongs” in the classroom and how we feel about students using AI.

But how we feel about “AI in the classroom” is irrelevant, because we are already living in a society where AI generated content is available to be created and consumed. And ignoring that fact in our classroom deprives students of the critical thinking that is paramount to interacting with that AI generated content.

Goals of Exploring AI Generated Art in the Classroom

  1. We want to teach students what AI generated images are, where they may encounter it and how they might be able to identify it.
  2. We want students to think critically about the context of the image and its intent. Advertisements, politically charged pictures, and images with the intent to influence or teach are going to be approached differently than images used to entertain. This helps students develop internal hierarchies when viewing images and judging their authenticities.
  3. We want students to develop an automatic “questioning habit” when viewing images and video in the future.

How to Get Students to Think Critically About AI Generated Art

I have created themed sets of AI generated art lessons to help teach about AI generated images and help students thinking more critically about it!

Each set comes with a Google Slides and student printable pages. At the core of each set is a collection of 20 AI-generated images, created in response to theme-specific prompts. Images and the prompts are both shared so students can connect what Dall-E was prompted with and what it produced.  

The use of AI in generating these images serves a dual purpose – not only does it introduce students to the AI image creation, but it also presents them with a unique opportunity to understand and explore the concept of AI interpretation while also honing their skills to identify AI generated images “in the wild.”

The “Notice and Ponder” activity, integral to each set, is a powerful tool in developing critical thinking skills. It encourages students to observe closely, to question, and to engage in deep thinking.

By examining the AI-generated images, students learn to notice details, patterns, and perhaps even inconsistencies, leading them to wonder about the AI’s process, decision-making, and the creative interpretation of the prompts.

I also include a few slides with background about Dall-E, how it works and “words to know” to use when you first introduce the activity to your students.

How to Implement “Notice and Ponder” Strategy into a Technology Lesson.

The ‘Notice and Wonder’ technique is a powerful tool in math that is used to engage students in critical thinking and observation. In this case, you will be encouraging students to take a closer look at AI-generated images and articulate their observations and queries.

By giving students space to observe and think, this technique helps develop important analytical skills in students.

Please note that the first few times you run this lesson, students may need a bit of handholding to make deep and thoughtful observations. I have included extensions questions that can help if students need some prompting!

Basic Lesson Plan: Implementing “Notice and Ponder: AI Generated Images”

Objective: Enhance students’ observation, critical thinking, and discussion skills using AI-generated images.

Materials Needed: Notice & Ask: AI Generated Images set (projected for all students or shared via Google Classroom), printable student recording sheet.

Duration: Approximately 30-40 minutes for deep dive or use as a 5-10 minute warm up or transitional activity.

Activity Steps:

1. Introduction (5 minutes):

  • If this is the first time doing this lesson, you will want to review the first few slides and briefly explain the concept of Dall-E, how it generates images, and words to know.
  • Introduce the ‘Notice and Wonder’ technique, emphasizing the importance of observation and curiosity.

2. Individual Observation (5-10 minutes):

  • Display just the prompt and the Dall-E Response side of the slide. Keep the image covered first. Have students make a mental image of what they expect the image to look like based on the prompt and Dall-E’s response.
  • Next, delete the image cover and instruct them to silently observe the image and jot down everything they notice on one side of the sheet and any questions they wonder about on the other. They should also note any discrepancies such as artifacts or distortions.

3. Group Discussion (5-10 minutes):

  • Invite students to share their observations and questions with the class.
  • Encourage others to add to the observations or respond to the questions.

4. Introducing Extension Questions (Optional):

  • After the initial discussion, introduce a few extension questions to deepen the analysis.
  • Discuss the extension questions as a group, encouraging students to think beyond their initial observations.
  • Focus on connecting the prompt to the AI’s interpretation and the details in the image.

5. Writing Activity (Optional)

  • Have students use the image and the prompt as a story starter for journaling.
  • After discussing the image with the whole group, the image can be used in a writing center or as a faster finisher story starter.

AI in the Classroom and Media Literacy Lessons

Incorporating AI into classroom learning provides an excellent opportunity to enhance students’ media literacy, a crucial skill in navigating today’s digital landscape. You can use the Notice & Ask slideshow to introduce these concepts in a tangible and engaging way.

I made sure that the prompts and the images created by Dall-E will lend itself to this discussion naturally but here are some of the topics you can focus on:

Understanding AI and Image Generation:

  • Introduce students to the basics of AI, focusing on how it can generate images from text prompts.
  • Discuss the process of neural networks and machine learning, simplifying these concepts for easier understanding.

Critical Analysis of AI Art:

  • Encourage students to analyze how AI interprets prompts differently from humans.
  • Discuss the creative process of AI versus human artists, highlighting the uniqueness of AI-generated art.
  • Highlight the importance of this skill in an era where digital content is prolific and not always what it seems.

Identifying Biases and Limitations:

  • Explore the concept of biases in AI, explaining how and why AI might produce unexpected results.
  • Discuss the importance of understanding AI’s limitations in image interpretation and generation.
  • Guide students to notice the quirks and anomalies that often appear in AI-produced art.
  • Discuss how these quirks can be telltale signs of AI involvement and are useful in distinguishing AI art from human-made pieces.

Media Literacy Through AI Understanding:

  • Teach students to critically evaluate the media they consume, including AI-generated content.
  • Emphasize the role of AI in modern media and the importance of discerning between AI-generated and human-created content.

Ethical Considerations in AI Usage:

  • Introduce discussions about the ethical use of AI in media and art.
  • Encourage students to think about the responsible use of technology in creating and sharing content.
  • Discuss the responsibility of acknowledging AI’s role in the creation of certain works, especially in the context of originality and credit.
  • Challenge students to question the authenticity of digital media and the implications of AI-generated content.

By incorporating Notice & Ponder AI Generated Art sets into your curriculum, you not only provide students with an engaging learning experience but also equip them with crucial skills for the digital age.

Students will:

  • gain a deeper understanding of AI
  • enhance their critical thinking and media literacy
  • develop a strong foundation in digital citizenship

all while exploring the technological wonders of AI generated art in the classroom!

Browse all of the Notice & Ponder AI Generated Art sets available in my shop here.

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